Words. The tools that we use to communicate each and every day. We tend to take them for granted, such a vital part of our lives they are. Are words just words? Are there lessons that can be learned from one of our most basic tools? Yes. Perhaps we could shape a better vision for our society and a better future for ourselves – and those to follow us – if we heeded the lessons of the very language we speak, think and communicate.
Think back and look back upon the passages of time that make up the history of human civilization. Men and women have walked the lands and sailed the seas of our world. Great rulers have orchestrated policies that have guided the history of human societies as a rudder guides a ship. However, no policy would be crafted, no rule would need to be heeded if it were not for the power of the written word and spoken language. Policies are based upon ideas and visions that are communicated to others through rhetoric. The power driving human accomplishment are the words that we think and speak every day. Therefore, it should not be beyond our own individual power to make a difference in the world around us. We only need to have the awareness to realize the power that we hold and the moral courage to stand up for what is right.
Look back upon some major events in history. Yes, we recognize the resulting policy that changed an outcome. But, what we remember are the words that a figure, who stood out for a moment in history, spoke and wished to share with others. We learn the Gettysburg Address that President Abraham Lincoln spoke, defining the vision of the United States of America. We look back at American Presidents, such as Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and recognize them as much for the words they used to describe our vision as we do for the policies they proposed. We look to a time in 1968 where Robert Kennedy – before his tragic assassination – helped to calm a crowd as he broke the news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to them. He did so not by promising a policy, but by using the power of rhetoric – the power of words – to connect with the crowd. He quoted a Greek poet and a message of love and compassion:
“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another…”.
The point behind all of this is that the power of words hold the power to our present and future. Words have value. We live in times of unrest and a rapidly changing world. These issues, while noticeable in our times, are not uncommon. This unfortunate fact can be quelled by the knowledge that we can follow the path of history and use words, visions and ideas as our sword and our moral courage as our steed. That is how we shape human history. That is how we shape our future. With hope, love, compassion and humanity.
Just as words can be used to communicate a vision of hope, love, compassion and humanity, we must beware of an abuse of power of thought and idea. Just as words can be used to aid our vision and future, so to can it be used to oppress others. There are those who will follow that path, for we live in an imperfect world. It is for the righteous among us, those with the moral courage to stand and deliver for what is right, to carve out the path of our society on the road to justice and humanity, for the path of evil is not the path that we seek should our society wish to survive and sustain in the future.
Words – our most powerful tools. In the final analysis, these tools that we use every day must be used as a force of good and not evil. While we may only seem to be a small portion of this world, our words and our actions matter. Have the moral courage to use words in a positive manner to shape ideas and visions that benefit all of mankind. Do not be afraid to make a difference. Be the difference.